Project Heat 2018 raised more than $190,000. Way to go, Maine!

The official total as of Feb. 9 for NEWS CENTER Maine's Project Heat telethon day stood at $190,460 raised, which is $42,000 more than last year's total of $148,000.

Accounting for an average oil price of $3 per gallon, this total helps 669 households.

Here's a breakdown of what's included in our total for this year's Project Heat:

- $82,450 from Project Heat Telethon donors

- $75,000 from Dead River Company

- $15,000 from the Sam L. Cohen Foundation

- $10,500 in checks received

- $7,500 from Nissan

Thank you so much for making our telethon a success!

WATCH: 207: Working to keep Mainers warm during the winter

NEWS CENTER Maine's 2018 Project Heat telethon is Thursday, Jan. 18. Talent and staff will take your donation calls from 5 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., working to raise funds for Keep ME Warm.

PLEASE CALL TO HELP

Portland: 855-875-4328 or 207-523-3850

Bangor: 855-874-9529 or 207-991-5385

It takes an estimated $300 to supply 100 gallons of home heating fuel.

As of 2 p.m., Mainers have helped raise more than $45,700 for the Keep ME Warm Fund, a statewide charitable partnership that provides assistance for Mainers who find it difficult to pay their heating bills and stay warm during the cold months, especially those on fixed incomes like seniors.

We're not even a third of a way through winter, yet temperatures have been brutally cold. To make matters worse, fuel prices are up and the costs for basic needs, like rent and food, continue to rise.

This combination leaves each of the nearly 162,000 Mainers living in poverty with a difficult decision to make — choosing whether to pay for heat, housing and/or food.

Let's all help put an end to these circumstances.

Nissan donated $7,500 to the cause.

Keep ME Warm was created in 2008 and consists of the 10 United Ways in Maine and the 10 Community Action Programs (CAPs).

Last year, Keep ME Warm raised $148,550, enough to provide more than 654 Maine households with 100 gallons of emergency heating assistance. All proceeds from Project Heat benefit the fund.

According to the Maine Governor's Energy Office (GEO), a well-insulated home of 1,500 square feet may use, on average, about 540 gallons of fuel oil in a year. At $2.64 per gallon, that's nearly $2,400 annually, not including heating water for the home.

The GEO says nearly 70 percent of Maine homeowners rely on oil for their heating needs. It's a higher share than any other state.

In 2017, 64 percent of all low-income Maine households spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing, which includes heating — far more than the recommended amount to maintain household financial stability.

Learn more about the United Ways of Maine

211 Maine is a free, confidential resource that helps connect people in Maine to needed health and human services. In addition to other referrals, 211 Specialists can refer individuals to resources in their area that assist with financial heating needs.

On a limited basis, through the Keep ME Warm Fund, 211 Maine is able to provide financial assistance to low income families in emergencies.